CLIFF: A component-based, machine-learned, intermolecular force field


Computation of intermolecular interactions is a challenge in drug discovery because accurate ab initio techniques are too computationally expensive to be routinely applied to drug-protein models. Classical force fields are more computationally feasible, and force fields designed to match symmetry adapted perturbation theory (SAPT) interaction energies can remain accurate in this context. Unfortunately, the application of such force fields is complicated by the laborious parameterization required for computations on new molecules. Here, we introduce the component-based machine-learned intermolecular force field (CLIFF), which combines accurate, physics-based equations for intermolecular interaction energies with machine-learning models to enable automatic parameterization. The CLIFF uses functional forms corresponding to electrostatic, exchange-repulsion, induction/polarization, and London dispersion components in SAPT. Molecule-independent parameters are fit with respect to SAPT2+(3)δMP2/aug-cc-pVTZ, and molecule-dependent atomic parameters (atomic widths, atomic multipoles, and Hirshfeld ratios) are obtained from machine learning models developed for C, N, O, H, S, F, Cl, and Br. The CLIFF achieves mean absolute errors (MAEs) no worse than 0.70 kcal mol−1 in both total and component energies across a diverse dimer test set. For the side chain-side chain interaction database derived from protein fragments, the CLIFF produces total interaction energies with an MAE of 0.27 kcal mol−1 with respect to reference data, outperforming similar and even more expensive methods. In applications to a set of model drug-protein interactions, the CLIFF is able to accurately rank-order ligand binding strengths and achieves less than 10% error with respect to SAPT reference values for most complexes.

Publication Title

Journal of Chemical Physics